Birthday Tribute to World War II Vet Don Shady

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.
Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Today I want to say ‘Happy birthday’ and give tribute to a World War II vet that I’m happy to call my friend.

We attend the same church and usually see each other weekly, but I didn’t know Don Shady well when I interviewed him about his experiences in the Army Air Corps during the war.

In fact, I had not interviewed many Army Air Corps members at that time and fear I may have burdened him with some silly questions about the American military’s newest branch (it became the Air Force in 1947).

But Don was patient with me and believed in me enough to allow me to put his story in the book World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

His is one of 28 World War II stories from Allen, Adams, Wells, Whitley, Huntington counties.

Don shared accounts of when he was piloting a C47 during battle. The following is an edited excerpt from my book:

In December 1944 Lieutenant Shady was involved in the Siege of Bastogne. It was a battle between American and German forces at the Belgian town of that name.

Weather aided the German army’s efforts. “A low ceiling from cloud cover prevented us from taking in supplies early by air, but we flew on Christmas Day and the day after,” said Shady. The siege lasted one week until the nearly depleted American forces were relieved by General George Patton’s Third Army.

Since the book has been published, Don has helped with its publicity.

Front row: Bob Foster, Don Shady. Back row: Nelson Price, Kayleen Reusser

Front row: Bob Foster, Don Shady. Back row: Nelson Price, Kayleen Reusser

On February 28, Don and another vet featured in my book, Bob Foster, accompanied John and me to Indianapolis to be interviewed by Nelson Price on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis. The hour-long show, Reflections of World War II veterans, was a success largely due to Don’s contribution in recounting his war experiences.

He had shared with me that he had never been on the radio in his life. It meant a lot to me that he was willing to venture out on a snowy day to go with us on an all-day trip.

WWII vet Shady good

More recently Don and three local World War II vets participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Wells County Public Library. Don shared his story of helping to liberate Polish prisoners of war back to their homeland. “They were filthy and we had to delouse the plane after each trip, but it was rewarding,” he said.

Thanks Don for being such a gentleman and kind friend. I’m glad we’ve gotten to know each other.

**

WWII Legacies: Stories of NE IN Veterans is available at this site’s homepage using the Paypal button.

WWII Legacies Profile: Paul Zurcher

Paul Zurcher was awarded Purple Heart after being wounded in WWII.

Zurcher uni Purp Heart

Thirteen weeks after being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, Paul Zurcher of Monroe was on the front lines of battle in Italy. He was part of the 10th Mountain Division, a machine gun squadron in which Zurcher served as the ammunition bearer.

Often, while burrowed in a foxhole during battle, 19-year-old Zurcher wondered about his future. “I didn’t know if I would survive,” he said.

Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

This is the beginning of the story I wrote for my book about a great World War II veteran and Christian man. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Zurcher after hearing about him and his business from many people in my area. One of Mr. Zurcher’s biggest fans is my husband who loved to do business at Zurcher’s Best-One Tire and Auto Care in Monroe, Indiana.

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans


Last year when putting together my stories for my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, I asked Mr. Zurcher for an interview.

He was happy to sit with me in his conference room. Afterward we took a walk around his large tire empire. This 90-year-old trotted around the huge buildings so fast that I had trouble keeping up!

He had a great story about growing up poor and learning to value family and a relationship with God more than anything. He developed his tire business after the war and it is well known throughout the world today.

I actually interviewed Mr. Zurcher on the day he was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash from the governor of Indiana! This is the highest award given to a resident.

His time in the war was dynamic. Mr. Zurcher was the first to be part of the Italian invasion with the 10th Mountain Division. He was shot in the chest in combat and survived. He was later awarded a Purple Heart.

Zurcher Paul
He also attended the book launch party I conducted in November 2014 at the Bluffton Armory.

It’s amazing to me that after interviewing 80+ World War II vets (my goal is to interview as many as I can!), I still hear unique stories like this one.

You can read the rest of Paul Zurcher’s story and those of 27 other veterans in my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans. Click the ‘Buy Now’ button on my Home page.

Mr. Zurcher was signed up to go on an Honor Flight for Northeast Indiana but sadly passed away on May 7, 2015, just days before his flight.

Read more about Paul Zurcher’s life Paul Zurcher obituary

It was an honor to get to know Mr. Zurcher from these events. I’m sure his presence is missed.

If you know a World War II vet, be sure to tell them thank you. If they live near a group that takes Honor Flight for Northeast Indiana trips, help to arrange their passage on it.

British Naval Officer Lived in Churchill’s Home

British-born Dorothy Blue holds book about Winston Churchill which mentions her military service during WWII.

British-born Dorothy Blue holds book about Winston Churchill which mentions her military service during WWII.

 

 

 

 

World War II involved more than American soldiers. I say that facetiously because of course, many countries were fighting for years before the US was involved.

 

I had the privilege a few years ago of meeting a gal who was British and who had an unusual connection with World War II. What those poor people experienced is hard to imagine. If you’d like to get a good idea, I recommend Foyle’s War, available on DVD and Acorn Online. This is an EXCELLENT series about Britain’s role in WWII from the viewpoint of a policeman who solves crimes along the coast.

This show has received many awards and continues today after 8 seasons. I’ve viewed it many times and always learn something about the war. It was created by Anthony Horowitz who also wrote many episodes. I’m interested in other personal, untold stories about WWII. Please let me know if you have one you’d like to share.

Stories like this make up my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. If you’d like to order a copy, click on the Paypal button at the top of the Homepage of this site.

Tell an American military veteran thank you today!

**

It was a wedding Dorothy Blue of Ossian, IN, was sorry to miss. Unfortunately, Blue, 88, didn’t feel well enough to travel, especially the distance from her Ossian home to the location of this special occasion. She sent an apology letter at having to miss the happy union.

Attending the happy event would have indeed meant a great deal of travel and effort. For one thing, the union took place overseas, in London, to be exact.

 It might have also been a challenge traveling through the streets of England’s capital to Westminster Abbey where the wedding would take place. As it happened, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world had come to London, hoping to glimpse the famous pair being wed. 

On April 29, 2011, Blue watched the wedding to which she had been invited on TV. Prince William and Catherine Middleton were made man and wife in an event that was surely one of the most exciting events in England’s history for the past several decades.

Blue’s invitation to the Royal Wedding was the result of more than half a century of friendship between herself and that of the famous British leader of World War II, Winston Churchill.

 

“During the war, I served as secretary to Lord Moran, Churchill’s physician,” she said. “Mr Churchill and I met through that acquaintance.” Churchill’s grand-nephews had issued the invitation to Blue to attend the wedding.

 

Blue’s six degrees of separation to meeting Churchill began when she joined the British Navy in 1939.  Born in 1923 in England, Blue had won a scholarship to King’s College in London at age 16. For two years she studied music and psychology.

 

When in 1939 England declared war on Germany, Blue was ready to volunteer. She and her parents had been bombed in an air raid shelter and lost their home. Dorothy joined the military; her parents lived in the air raid shelter for five years during the ensuing war.

 

Blue served as an ensign officer in the British Navy. Her duties included serving as secretary to Dr. Charles McMoran Wilson. Lord Moran, as the doctor was known, was Churchill’s primary physician from 1940 when the latter became Prime Minister until Churchill’s death in 1965.

 

Born in 1874, Churchill was the most dominant figure in British politics during the war against Germany. According to Blue, Churchill became ill during the latter part of the war and Moran and Blue resided in his home for six months while he recuperated.

 

What was it like living in Winston Churchill’s home? “Mr. Churchill had a large, luxurious home with maids and a butler,” Blue recalled. “While living there, it was hard to remember there was a war going on.” As for the man himself, Blue observed, “He drank brandy and smoked cigars and was very loyal to England. He was a nice man.” At the time Churchill’s wife lived at another residence.

 

Blue’s dedication to her work and the Prime Minister was such that when Lord Moran wrote his book, Churchill: Taken from the Diaries of Lord Moran (published by Houghton Mifflin 1966 in Boston) he dedicated it to her. The dedication stated, “To Dorothy who has been given back to me and to John & Jeffrey (Churchill’s grandsons)”. Lord Moran also included incidents about her in the book. “The dedication referred to a time when the military had re-assigned me to another position and then returned me to work with Lord Moran,” said Blue.

 

On the day of our interview Dorothy Blue said her daughter had the invitation to the Royal Wedding.

 

In 1945 Dorothy married John Mead, an American soldier. They left England to move to Mead’s hometown of Huntington, Indiana. The couple became parents to a son and daughter and later, three grandchildren. Dorothy worked for many years at the Huntington Court House in the Auditors office.

 

John Mead died in 1983 and Dorothy remarried Harold Blue in 1991. They moved to Ossian in 1996.

 

Sadly, Dorothy’s son from her first marriage, Kent who was an Air Force pilot, died in a training accident at Sawyer Air Force Base in 2000. Harold Blue died within three weeks of Kent.

 

Dorothy died in 2013. Her life was unusual and sometimes difficult but she continued to contribute to her community by volunteering with various craft groups and her church. “I tried to take everything in stride during my life,” she said. “The war was everywhere and I saw much sadness, but overall I’ve led a fantastic life.”

 

 

 

WWII Radio Interview: Success!

Relaxing with Nelson Price (L) after being interviewed on his live radio show.
Relaxing with Nelson Price (L) after being interviewed on his live radio show.

Relaxing with Nelson Price (L) after being interviewed on his live radio show.

 

You can tell by the expressions on our faces that World War II vets Bob Foster & Don Shady and I enjoyed our time on the air last week with talk show host Nelson Price. Nelson is the host of a long-running live history talk show —Hoosier History Live!

 

Hoosier History Live is the nation’s only live-with-call-in radio history show. It airs noon-1pm ET on WICR 88.7 Indianapolis or online. The studios are located on the campus of University of Indianapolis.

 

Nelson has written several books on the subject of Hoosier (the word ‘Hoosier’ refers to someone from Indiana, for those of you not familiar with our state’s colloquialism) history.

 

The topic of my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, appealed to Nelson. He graciously invited me to bring two World War II vets profiled in my book to the studio for a live radio interview.

 

Talking on live radio was a new experience for Bob and Don. They did great!

Talking on live radio was a new experience for Bob and Don. They did great!

That meant driving 2 hours each way from northern Indiana where we live and where most of the vets from my book live. It was sure to be a long day, especially if weather was a problem.

 

I was thrilled when Army Air Corps pilot Don Shady and Army vet Bob Foster consented to the trip.

 

You don’t know how many prayers went up for good weather!

 

Thankfully, it was a glorious day with sunshine and clear driving conditions. My wonderful husband, John, drove us to the campus.

 

We were all a little nervous but Nelson’s professional attitude put us at ease. He had questions and a show format prepared and went over them with us before the show. The hour sped by and I was proud of Don and Bob for speaking well on the air.

 

Lunch at Santorini Greek Restaurant with owner Jeanette Sawi was fun and delicious!

Lunch at Santorini Greek Restaurant with owner Jeanette Sawi was fun and delicious!

It was a delight to meet the show’s producer, Molly Head. (That’s her peeking behind my shoulder) She and Nelson dined with us after the show at a nearby Greek restaurant. Santorini Greek Kitchen (1417 E. Prospect St, Indianapolis) was beautiful and a wonderful experience. I had never eaten Greek food except baklava and was not sure what to expect. The food was beyond our expectations.

 

This photo shows just our salads, but we later ate delicious main dishes that I have no way of pronouncing or spelling here. Suffice it to say, we left the restaurant with full, happy stomachs!

 

The restaurant owner, Jeanette Sawi, sat with us for a while and chatted with Don and Bob. I think we created lifelong memories with our visit! Thanks Jeanette and her husband, Taki, for a delicious meal and hospitality!

 

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

I’m booking speaking engagements now about my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

 

If you know of a group that would like to know what it has been like to interview 75+ World War II vets and write a book about some of their experiences, contact me. xxxkjreusser@adamswells.comxxx (remove the X’s which are there to prevent Spam). The book is available now at the Paypal button on my site’s home page at top. It would be a perfect gift for a history lover, Baby Boomer or veteran.

Take the time today to tell a vet thank you!

 

 

WWII Vets to Share Stories on Upcoming Radio Interview

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.
Bob Foster fought with the US Army in WWII.

Bob Foster fought with the US Army in WWII.

On Sat 2/28 my husband John & I will accompany 2 World War II vets from my book — World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans — to University of Indianapolis to be featured on a Hoosier History Live radio show. It airs each Saturday, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM. You can listen live on WICR Online.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady was a pre-med major at Indiana University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He co-piloted a C-47 in Allied attacks on Germans, then at war’s end his crew transported Polish prisoners of war who had been liberated back to their homeland from German-held territory.

Bob Foster (pictured at top of this post) of Fort Wayne was among the thousands of Allied troops who arrived in Normandy, France, in mid-June 1944 for the Battle of Cherbourg. Six months later, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the war’s most brutal conflicts.
Please show your support of our World War II vets by listening in and maybe even placing a call of support during the show! 317) 927-9101 Thanks!

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

Our host, Nelson Price, has conducted this weekly show for many years. Please tune in and call with a question and thanks to these vets who served our country so well!
WWII Legacies: Stories of NE IN Veterans can be purchased by clicking the Paypal button on this site’s homepage ($20+$4.95 P/H).
Thank a vet today for his/her service!

Vernon ‘Bun’ Affolder served at D-Day and Battle of the Bulge

Vernon 'Bun' Affolder served at D-Day and Battle of the Bulge.

Vernon ‘Bun’ Affolder served at D-Day and Battle of the Bulge.

My Vet of the Week is Vernon W. ‘Bun’ William Affolder of Decatur, IN. Mr. Affolder died on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. His birthday would have been tomorrow.

 

I interviewed him in his home three years ago. He became emotional about several parts of the war that were still very real to him. That taught me decades of time doesn’t erase memories of the horrors of war.

We need to support our vets with patience and understanding.

Thanks, Mr. Affolder, for your service. Rest in peace.

Note: This story is similar to those found in my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

**

As part of the first group of soldiers who left Decatur, Indiana, to serve as soldiers in WWII, Vernon ‘Bun’ Affolder never dreamed his military career would be so eventful.

 

Affolder was born in Van Wert, Ohio. He moved with his family to Decatur in 1927, graduating from Decatur High School in 1937. He worked at a local hardware store until 1941 when he got a notice from the United States Army. “They drafted me, then told me to go home,” he said. The Army did not forget Affolder. In January 1942 he and other young men from Adams County were sworn in as American soldiers.

 

Assigned to the infantry, Affolder completed basic training at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He and thousands of other troops learned to shoot and hike through miles of poison ivy-infested weeds carrying heavy packs. Affolder was so sunburned by the time his parents visited him in 1942, they didn’t recognize him.

 

Affolder transferred to Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, where he worked in the supply room. Thanks to his proficiency at typing due to a course in high school, he was sent to the Army surgeon’s office. “Because I worked for the Army surgeon, I wore a red band on my arm and a red cross on my helmet,” he said. “But I did not administer medical aid. My only job was to distribute supplies from the Surgeon’s office.”

 

Within months Affolder was aboard the Queen Elizabeth, along with thousands of other American soldiers, bound for Europe. “At the back of the boat were 52-gallon drums,” he said. “They hid depth bombs which were designed to go underwater and sink German submarines.”

 

Staff Sergeant Affolder spent 13 months in Bristol, England, working in the 5th Corps Headquarters. His commander was in charge of all field hospitals and aide stations. Affolder liked record keeping and working with the four officers and six enlisted men assigned to his office.

 

Living among the British was educational. “A bulletin board in the city park listed announcements about the war,” he said. “Despite the ‘loose lips sink ships’ saying, we knew if you wanted to know something about the war, ask a Brit!”

 

In June 1944, Affolder’s unit traveled to a place in France called Omaha Beach. At 0900 hours on June 6 (a day later than originally planned, due to inclement weather), thousands of Allied landing crafts dropped American and British soldiers into the waters near the edge of the shore. The intent of the Allies was to storm the beach and run off the firing Germans.

 

The Germans had placed big logs on the shore close to the edge to prevent Allied landings. “They shot big 88 shells at us,” said Affolder. Chaos reigned for hours as the Allies struggled to take the beach. Affolder and thousands of other American soldiers were thrust into a battle they had been ill-prepared for, but they fought valiantly.

 

When a shell blew off the leg of an American soldier, Affolder, standing nearby, was placed in a dilemma. As an aide to the Army surgeon, he wore an arm band indicating his connection with the medical office, but he had no authorization or training to administer aid.

 

“The other soldiers standing there thought I should try to help the wounded soldier,” he said, “but I was only a supply clerk. I had not even been issued a gun.”

 

Affolder helped load fallen soldiers to the safety of the landing crafts. “They were mostly young guys around age 21,” he said. “They lay with their eyes open and arms outspread. I still have flashbacks of that time.”

 

By the following day, the Americans had gained a foothold of Omaha Beach. After the Germans retreated, Affolder resumed his work in the surgeon’s office. There he met General and future United States president Ike Eisenhower. “He was a wonderful guy,” said Affolder. “He talked to us about our work at Omaha Beach.”

 

For Affolder the tragedies of war were not over. In December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, he and other American soldiers nearly lost their lives as part of what became known as the Malmedy Massacre. “We pulled out of Malmedy, France, on December 16, the night before a German combat unit captured 84 American soldiers and shot them,” he said. “I think that was the scariest part of the war for me.”

 

Later that spring, Affolder saw the atrocities of Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, Germany, just weeks after its liberation in April 1945. “We saw the butcher block where German dentists had removed gold from prisoners’ teeth,” he said. “We also saw a guy with a wheelbarrow carrying the body of a dead soldier.”

 

By summer 1945, the Japanese had surrendered and the war was over. Due to the number of battles he had fought and length of time of service, Affolder was one of the first to be discharged. American soldiers were flown back to the States in C47’s planes. “There were no seats inside, but that left room for more of us GIs to get home,” he said. (Note: GI is abbreviation for ‘Government Issue’ and was a common nickname for American soldiers.)

 

Back in Decatur, Affolder resumed working at the hardware store before choosing to sell life insurance, a career he continued until age 85. He and his wife Phyllis met in 1941 while Bun was on furlough. Phyllis died in 1992. Affolder remarried Alice in 1995.

 

For his contribution to the war Affolder was issued a Bronze Star for bravery and acts of  meritorious service. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the United States Armed Forces.

 

Arrangements by Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home, Decatur, Ind. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/fortwayne/obituary.aspx?pid=169212673#sthash.CW2SFZSQ.dpuf

The End

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

I’d like to recognize a vet who passed away last year. Elmo Rieddle was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943. He worked two years as a mechanic for the 486th Bomb Squadron at Sudbury England. After he was discharged at the war’s end, he was a member of the Army National Guard for many years. “I was glad to have served,” he told me. “I would have hated to have not served.”

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

I get excited each time it works out for me to interview another World War II vet. At this point the total number of World War II vets I’ve interviewed over the past few years is 75.

 

I’m trying to average two per week, but the wintry weather is making it a challenge.

 

This week I’m averaging three interviews. If all goes well this weekend, I’ll interview a man who has been on an Honor Flight for Northeast Indiana but that is all I know of him. Can’t wait to pick his brain tonight!

His daughter will be there to also hear the stories.

 

Tomorrow I plan to interview a female who is 101 years old! She served as a nurse during the war. Her two children will be there to help with stories she has told them. She will be only the second person I’ve ever interviewed who is a centenarian! I’m looking forward to each of these interviews. My goal is to interview as many World War II vets as possible.

 

What are you doing to keep history alive? We all can do something!

In the same vein what are you doing to thank our nation’s vets of all ages/ eras for their service? I’ll say it again—THANK YOU! We appreciate your service on our behalf!

Tell a vet thank you today!